Everton are the latest club to sign a Russian star after Diniyar Bilyaletdinov signed for the club. He joins a growing number of his compatriots who have moved to the Premier League alongside Arsenal’s Andrei Arshavin, Chelsea’s Yuri Zhirkov and Tottenham’s Roman Pavlyuchenko. However, the latest star of Russian football being linked to English clubs is the highly talented CSKA Moscow teenager Alan Dzagoev who has been dubbed the ‘New Andrei Arshavin’.
The 19-year-old is already a full international and is widely regarded as the future of Russian football. Dzagoev was born in Beslan and began his youth career with the club he supported Vladikavkaz before moving to Krylia Sovetov in the Russian 2nd division. Despite being just 16-years old he scored 6 goals in 37 appearances for the club before CSKA made their move.
Dzagoev was slowly blooded into the CSKA first team starting numerous cup matches and played an integral role in a cup win in his first season scoring in the quarter-final, semi-final and final. He has since become a mainstay of the side making 20 league appearances in 2008 (18 starts) and scoring an impressive 8 times. The teenager showed that despite his slight frame that he is not scared to mix it with opposition defenders having been booked 6 times and red carded once in that season. Dzagoev also picked up an award as the Best Young Player in the Russian Premier League. He played the majority of these games either in the centre of midfield or as a 2nd striker behind main man Vagner Love where he has struck up a particularly impressive partnership.
This season Dzagoev has continued his impressive form with 5 goals in 17 league games (16 starts) which has alerted a number of clubs around Europe to his quality. He also featured heavily in CSKA’s Uefa Cup campaign which included success over Aston Villa before being beaten by eventual winners Shakhtar Donetsk.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW
Guus Hiddink awarded the exciting teenager with his first international appearance in October 2008 as a substitute in a World Cup qualifying defeat against Germany. His debut at 18-years-old and 116 days made Dzagoev the youngest ever outfield player to play for Russia. The youngest overall was his CSKA team-mate Igor Akinfeev. He has since made a further three appearances for his country all as a substitute.
The teenage star shuns the limelight and is renowned for his modest character and work ethic. This is summed up by a quote he made in 2008 when he said, “I try to give interviews rarely – it’s better to play than to talk about it. Of course, we play for the fans and they want to know about us as much as possible. But I have yet to win something to give interviews left and right. It’s too early for me to do that.”
The CSKA star’s heroes as a youngster were both current team-mate Evgeni Aldonin and Chelsea star Frank Lampard with whom he join as Guus Hiddink was widely reported to have advised Roman Abramovich to sign him. The possibility of a future move is boosted by the fact Dzagoev has stated his favourite team outside of Russia is Chelsea. New Chelsea signing and former CSKA team-mate Yuri Zhirkov has also praised the teen. He said, “He’s just a super player.”
Dzagoev’s former academy coach Igor Rodkin has also praised the youngster. He said, Dzagoev plays football not for fame and money, but because football is his life.”
“It is rare today that a victory is more important for a player than the prize money for it, but with Alan, that is exactly the case.”
One of the former stars of Russian football and Spain’s La Liga Alexander Mostovoi has also praised Dzageo. He declared, “Alan stands apart from other players because of his non-standard actions. He is not afraid to get on the ball, to dribble, to take responsibility. I always like players like that.”
The CSKA star has a great engine, excellent technique and passing range plus good pace. Despite being 5 ft 10 he is not very strong in the air but his other attributes more than make up for this. Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool are known to be tracking the youngster who continues to gather admirers.
A youngster of Dzagoev’s quality would offer versatility as he can play as a central midfield playmaker or as a second striker. Therefore, Liverpool would be the ideal club as he would cover the role Xabi Alonso previously held as well as Steven Gerrard’s position.
Whether Alan Dzagoev moves or not this summer you are sure to hear a lot more from the Teenage ‘new Arshavin’.
Would you welcome this exciting young talent or would he be too much of a gamble? Let’s hear your views.